John Yeo was baptised at a Wesleyan Methodist ceremony in 1841. His parents William Yeo and Mary Routley farmed at Bradford in north Devon. He was educated at John Tuke’s boarding school and at Shebbear College, and worked briefly for a draper in Bideford before moving to London to join one of the largest drapery firms there – Spencer, Turner and Boldero. After his apprenticeship he worked for a time in Paris.
It was during his time in London that John Yeo met his future wife Julia Longley. They married there in 1873 and moved to Plymouth. John became a partner in the drapery business at 38 Bedford Street owned by Joseph Pillman, which was renamed John Yeo & Company in 1878. The firm occupied prominent premises in the centre of Plymouth for many years. John Yeo served two terms as Lord Mayor of Plymouth. He died in 1918.
John and Julia had four children:
– Edith Margaret Yeo (1877–1950, married Frank Steane Price)
– Lilian Julia Yeo (1878–1977, married William Cadman)
– Kathleen Mary Yeo (1880–1886)
– Frank Russell Yeo (1881–1936, married Evelyn Mary Kateley, three children).
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Some researchers have confused John with another John Yeo, born at St Austell ten years earlier, who also moved to Plymouth. See John Yeo and Charlotte Widger.